Gortroe proud of first man from St Ita’s to line out in All-Ireland hurling final

All-Ireland hurling preview: schoolchildren reckon Seamie Harnedy could be the man to lead a Cork win

Pupils of Clonpriest National School in east Cork.  Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Pupils of Clonpriest National School in east Cork. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 22:29

A September evening sun is slanting low across the newly mown fields and huge tractors roar down narrow boreens with the last cut of hay as the thoughts of young men and not so young men turn towards hurling and tomorrow’s All-Ireland final.

Excitement is mounting all over Leeside and nowhere more than in the small hamlet of Gortroe in east Cork that is preparing itself for a day which most of the 300 or so inhabitants never dreamed would happen.

Located just south of the N24 Cork-Waterford road between Youghal and Killeagh, Gortroe is centred on a crossroads where a church, a school, a hall, a shop and two houses provide a nucleus for a community to gather for special occasions.

And tomorrow promises to be such an occasion when local man Seamie Harnedy (23) lines out with Cork at centre-forward – the first man playing with local club, St Ita’s to appear in an All-Ireland final, and the community is justifiably both proud and excited at the prospect.

In between the red-and- white bunting hanging from every pole, stand posters and placards with messages of goodwill to Seamie, who burst on to the Cork scene this year in a classic case of what Christy Ring must have meant when he spoke about Cork hurlers shooting up like mushrooms overnight.

Not surprisingly, Seamie is a hero to all the local children attending Clonpriest National School with Cian Coleman Butler (10) and Matthew O’Donnell (11) both identifying the St Ita’s man as possibly the man who could swing things Cork’s way against the Banner county.

“I definitely think Seamie could get a goal on Sunday,” said Matthew, who reckons Cork will win by a few points.

St Ita’s secretary Shane Supple – who’s still lining out for the club at the age of 49 – reckons it’s a day that will be cherished by all whoever wore the green and white of the small junior club.

“When I heard Marty Morrissey call out Seamie’s name and St Ita’s in the first Clare game, I felt 10ft tall.”

Shane says 16 members of the club have emigrated over the past five years and some are making some rather elaborate plans to see the match.

“We have one lad on an oil rig in the North Sea and he’s going to try and hitch a lift in a helicopter to another rig that has satellite TV on Sunday so he can see the match.”